Puebloan Ruins of the Southwest

by Arthur H. Rohn

Other authorsWilliam M. Ferguson (Author)
Paperback, 2006



Call number

E99.P9 R634


University of New Mexico Press (2006), Edition: First Edition, 336 pages


Puebloan Ruins of the Southwest offers a complete picture of Puebloan culture from its prehistoric beginnings through twenty-five hundred years of growth and change, ending with the modern-day Pueblo Indians of New Mexico and Arizona. Aerial and ground photographs, over 325 in color, and sixty settlement plans provide an armchair trip to ruins that are open to the public and that may be visited or viewed from nearby. Included, too, are the living pueblos from Taos in north central New Mexico along the Rio Grande Valley to Isleta, and westward through Acoma and Zuni to the Hopi pueblos in Arizona. In addition to the architecture of the ruins, Puebloan Ruins of the Southwest gives a detailed overview of the Pueblo Indians' lifestyles including their spiritual practices, food, clothing, shelter, physical appearance, tools, government, water management, trade, ceramics, and migrations.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member setnahkt
A nice, large-format coffee table book describing just about every Puebloan ruin preserved as a national, state or tribal park (“Puebloan” is used in the loose sense here, as the book includes Hopi and Zuni ruins; these are “pueblo” style architecture but the Hopi and Zuni people are not
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linguistically or culturally related to modern Puebloans). After an initial introduction discussing what can be deduced by archaeology, the book is organized by regions: Northern San Juans, Kayenta; Chaco Canyon, Little Colorado River, and Northern Rio Grande. This organization works well, since it elucidates one of the great mysteries of Pueblo culture; between 1050 and 1300 AD, the Pueblo peoples moved from their original heartland in the Four Corners region (covered by the Northern San Juans, Kayenta, and Chaco Canyon chapters) to prehistoric and extant sites along the Little Colorado River and northern Rio Grande River. Nobody is quite sure why. Suggestions include warfare and climate change; there’s some evidence for both. Before the migrations, the ancient Puebloans seemed to have consolidated and centralized outlying settlements and built various defensive structures – the Mesa Verde cliff dwellings being a prime example. However, there doesn’t seem to be archaeological evidence that the defenses were ever used – and there don’t seem to be any hostile people with sufficient sophistication to make war on the Puebloans. Similarly, while the Medieval Climate Optimum was a good time in Europe, it seems to have been a period of repeated drought in the American Southwest; again, though, the Puebloans had endured droughts before and their agricultural practices were optimized for dealing with water shortages. While acknowledging these suggestions, the authors fall back on the archaeologist’s traditional solution to anything mysterious – “ritual” reasons. In this case, that cop out may have something going for it, as Native Puebloan anthropologists note that their peoples while sometimes abandon places from religious motives – things just aren’t in harmony anymore and it’s time to go somewhere else.

An interesting sidelight on the migration problem is one of the most evocative and famous of Puebloan archaeological sites, Mesa Verde, was built, occupied, and abandoned over a period of around 75 years. The Denver generic suburb I live in is older than that. Mesa Verde had considerable impact on the history of North American archaeology; the sites there were relatively intact and since they were mostly built in cliff embayments they were in better physical shape than sites in the open. Thus, Mesa Verde architectural styles and methods were originally seen as archetypes for the rest of ancient Puebloan culture, until carbon dating and dendrochronology revealed the relatively brief occupational period. Mesa Verde overlooks a series of sites in the Montezuma Valley (Yellow Jacket Ruin, Lowry Ruin, Sand Canyon Ruin, Escalante Ruin, Dominguez Ruin, Duckfoot Ruin) that were contemporary to Mesa Verde and would have supported a population many times that of the cliff dwellings; however, serious archaeological work didn’t start there until 50 or so years after it did at Mesa Verde, and the sites are less well known.

Excellent maps, including a chronological series showing how the centers of Puebloan population changed through the ages. There are aerial photographs and/or plans of every site mentioned, and directions to those that are publically accessible, and there’s a thorough bibliography including both original dig reports and popular works. About the only negative feature is that the large format makes the book unsuitable as a field guidebook, especially for those sites that require a little hiking to reach. Great for background and reference, though.
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Original language


Physical description

10.96 inches


0826339700 / 9780826339706



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